Friday, May 30, 2014

Take Me On by Katie McGarry

Title: Take Me On (Pushing the Limits #4)
Author: Katie McGarry
Publisher: HarlequinTEEN
Release Date: May 27, 2014
Source: Purchased
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Acclaimed author Katie McGarry returns with the knockout new story of two high school seniors who are about to learn what winning really means.

Champion kickboxer Haley swore she’d never set foot in the ring again after one tragic night. But then the guy she can’t stop thinking about accepts a mixed martial arts fight in her honor. Suddenly, Haley has fro train West Young. All attitude, West is everything Haley promised herself she’d stay away from. Yet he won’t last five seconds in the ring without her help.

West is keeping a big secret from Haley. About who he really is. But helping her—fighting for her—is a shot at redemption. Especially since it’s his fault his family is falling apart. He can’t change the past, but maybe he can change Haley’s future.

Haley and West have agreed to keep their relationship strictly in the ring. But as an unexpected bond forms between them and attraction mocks their best intentions, they’ll face their darkest fears and discover love is worth fighting for.

It’s no secret that I love Katie McGarry and her books. Actually, I more than love her books, I absolutely ADORE them. So I’ve pretty much been pining for her latest, Take Me On, since I flipped the last page of Crash Into You. Now that I’ve read it, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I absolutely loved Take Me On. I mean, how could I not?

A year ago, Haley Williams walked away from fighting even though she was a champion kickboxer. It was the only way she could think of to protect the people she cares about. But when West Young walks into her life, Haley finds herself throwing punches once again to protect West, a complete stranger. West has been getting into fights for as long as he can remember. But never has he considered training to be a fighter. Now, West finds himself volunteering to fight for Haley, the girl he’s just met but who he can’t seem to stop thinking about. Haley and West should keep things simple between each other. Neither is in a position to be in a relationship. But the more time they spend together, training, the deeper their feelings for each other get. The big question for Haley and West is whether what they feel for each other worth fighting for?

Oh how I love Katie McGarry and her books. I’ve already said it, but I’ve pretty much been pining for Take Me On since I flipped the last page of Crash Into You. There’s just something about these stories that is incredibly addicting. So when I picked up Take Me On, I made sure I had lots of time on my hand because I knew that I wouldn’t want to stop reading. And I was totally right. The day after I started reading, I was at work and I kept looking at my bag, wishing I could be reading Take Me On instead. Because it was oh so good. As typically happens with Katie McGarry’s books, I was hooked right from the start. It helped that I had already met West in Crash Into You and I was dying to find out more about him. But even if I hadn’t known him, I would have been hooked. I wanted to find out all about these characters and their lives. I wanted to find out why Haley had walked away from fighting. I wanted to see if West’s father would realize how much he was making his son miserable. And of course, I wanted to see West and Haley together. I wanted to see their relationship grow and develop. Because West and Haley needed each other, even though they didn’t alway see it. 

In Crash Into You, I had gotten a glimpse of West Young and I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. But then Take Me On came along and I was all over West. Just like with Rachel in Crash Into You, it didn’t take long for me to realize just how miserable West was because of his parents, especially his dad. West was just in a bad place, he needed to get out. But until he was forced out, he didn’t really know how to get himself out. And really, what West needed was Haley—someone who would get under his skin in ways no one else could. But Haley was also someone who understood West the way no one else did. And much like it didn’t take long for me to fall for West, it took even less time for me to love Haley. I wanted so much for Haley. If I thought West was in a bad place, Haley was in an even worse situation and she had no way out without losing everything and everyone she’s ever cared about. I loved her, but I also wanted her to get her fight back. The whole time I was reading I could tell that she had this urge to fight back against her situation, but she kept on suppressing it. But when she met West, that started to change and I was happy about it. So yes, I LOVED West and Haley. On a different note, I still want to find out more about Ethan, West’s younger brother and Rachel’s twin. Also can Abby have her own story yet? Because I would read that in a heartbeat.

It should come as no surprise whatsoever that I loved Katie McGarry’s Take Me On. From page one, I was hooked and I couldn’t have asked for a better story for West and Haley. If you still haven’t read one of Katie McGarry’s books, you really should get on that. Because I honestly can’t wait to read what she writes next.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (86)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Jill of Breaking the Spine where book bloggers devote a post to an upcoming book release they are particularly looking forward to reading.

High school senior Jesse Alderman, or Sway as he’s known, could sell hell to a bishop. He also specializes in getting things people want—term papers, a date with the prom queen, fake IDs. It’s all business with Jesse. He has few close friends and he never lets emotions get in the way.

But when Ken, captain of the football team, leading candidate for homecoming kind, and all around jerk, hires Jesse to help him win the heart of the angelic Bridget Smalley, Jesse finds himself feelings all sorts of things. While following Bridget and learning the intimate details of her life, he falls helplessly in love for the very first time. He also finds himself in an accidental friendship with Bridget’s younger brother who’s belligerent and self-pitying after spending a lifetime dealing with cerebral palsy. Suddenly Jesse is visiting old folks at a nursing home in order to run into Bridget, and offering his time to help the less fortunate, all the while developing a bond with this young man who idolizes him. The tin man really does have a heart after all.

A Cyrano De Bergerac story with a modern twist, Sway is told from Jesse’s point of view with unapologetic truth and biting humor. His observations about the world around hi are untempered by empathy or compassion—until Bridget’s presence in his life forces him to confront his quiet devastation over a life changing event a year earlier and maybe, just maybe, feel SOMEthing, again.

Ever since I first heard about Kat Spears' Sway, I have been wanting to read it. First it's a contemporary story. Second, it's a contemporary story from a guy's perspective. And third, it just sounds awesome. Honestly, though, it just sounds like my kind of story and I can't wait to read. And I'm even hoping to be able to snag a copy of the book while at BEA this week.

Sway by Kat Spears will be published September 16, 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes

Title: The Art of Lainey
Author: Paula Stokes
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Source: ARC borrowed from fellow blogger
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Perfect for fans of Stephanie Perkins, Sarah Dessen, and Susane Colasanti, The Art of Lainey tells the story of how, with the help of The Art of War, Lainey plots the perfect plan to get her boyfriend back. But is getting him back really what she wants?

Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is gearing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her--no reasons, nor warnings, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help from her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that's when Lainey and Bianca stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, the girls are sure they can use the book to lure Jason back into Lainey's arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous.

After a few "dates," it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game. Can fighting for what she wants help Lainey figure out what she really needs?

You guys all know how much I love reading fun and adorable contemporaries. This time of year especially, I pretty much crave them. They just go so well with summer. Paula Stokes’ The Art of Lainey was just what I was craving and it quickly became a favourite. 

Lainey Mitchell had her summer all planned: she would work at her family’s café, play in a soccer summer rec league and spend all her spare time with her amazing boyfriend, Jason. But that plan quickly falls apart when, out of the blue, Jason breaks up with her for no reason and in front of everyone in the café. Lainey isn’t about to let a break up stop her though. With the help of her best friend, Bianca, she starts plotting how to get Jason back. Inspired by The Art of War, Lainey decides that was she needs is a fake boyfriend to make Jason jealous. Enter Micah, Lainey’s co-worker and Jason’s complete opposite. Who better to be a fake boyfriend? After just a few days, things seem to be working great. But the more time Lainey spends with Micah, the more she starts to think that maybe she’s been going after the wrong guy all along. 

I can’t even begin to explain how much I loved and enjoyed Paula Stokes’ The Art of Lainey. When I picked it up, I was just in the mood for a fun and adorable contemporary story, and on the surface that’s just what I got with The Art of Lainey. When I started reading, it didn’t take long for me to get completely sucked in. I loved the way The Art of War was woven into the story, realizing just how much it can be applied to everything beyond just war. And of course, in the context of this story, it led to some pretty amusing moments. Let’s just say that Lainey had a tendency to take things quite literally, making things that much more amusing. But what I loved about The Art of Lainey more than anything was the romance. This wasn’t your typical love at first sight story. The romance here, was definitely more of a slow burn between Lainey and Micah. If anything, they didn’t even really like each other when this whole fake dating thing started. But right away, I could tell that things would change and that Micah was who Lainey really belonged with, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Here’s the thing about Lainey. For almost half of the book I didn’t really like Lainey, to the point where I started wondering whether this would affect my enjoyment of the book. She just bothered me. She was so focused on trying to get Jason back that she didn’t see what was right in front of her, and don’t even get me started on her behaviour. She was just being that girl who couldn’t seem to figure out who she was outside of her boyfriend, and it bugged me. But there was character growth. Once Lainey started spending more time with Micah, she started changing for the better. She was still the same person, but she became much more likeable and actually started to understand who she was. And then there was Micah. Micah was so not who I expected him to be. He was SO MUCH BETTER. I loved the way he pushed Lainey and challenged her, trying to get her out of her comfort zone. But he wasn’t a jerk. Those glimpses I saw of him with his younger sister completely melted my heart. There was just so much more to him than met the eye. And I can’t wait to to read his story in Infinite Repeat

In case you hadn’t guessed it by now, I absolutely loved Paula Stokes’ The Art of Lainey. It was a fun and totally adorable story that kept me turning the pages with a big smile on my face. If you’re looking for the perfect contemporary read for summer, The Art of Lainey is just that book.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

BEA 2014

Unless you've been living under a rock the last couple of weeks, you probably know that next week is BEA week. I'm so excited to be going back to NYC because I love the city and to be going specifically for BEA. This will be my second year going, and I honestly can't wait. Last year was a lot of fun and I'm hoping for some more again this year. 

Because I'll be away, things are probably going to be quieter on the blog and I probably won't be on Twitter as much, though I will try to keep tweeting while I'm in New York. If you are going to BEA, let me know because I would love to actually meet you in person. Or you see me, just come say hi (if you don't know what I look like, just check out my Twitter profile). I'm really friendly (and loud, you've been warned) and I just love talking to people, especially if it's about books! 

I hope to see some of you there! 

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Blog Tour - All Lined Up by Cora Carmack + Giveaway

Title: All Lined Up (Rusk University #1)
Author: Cora Carmack
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Source: From Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows of her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking IT, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has been ruled by both

Dallas Cole loathes football. That’s what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn’t always go as planned. As if going to the college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball…as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally into his life, his focus is more than tested. It’s obliterated. 

Dallas doesn’t know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn’t know that Dallas is his new coach’s daughter. 

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel. 

Every so often, I get so excited about a book I become afraid that it won’t possibly live up to how much I’ve built it up in my mind. And then I read the book and all my expectations are met, to a point where the book becomes addicting and I find myself still reading at 2:30 AM. Most recently, that book for me was Cora Carmack’s All Lined Up.

Dallas Cole has spent her whole life coming in second to football. Being the daughter of a high school football coach in Texas will do that to a girl. Now heading to college, Dallas hopes to finally be able to be something other than the football coach’s daughter. But those plans quickly evaporate. Not only will Dallas be going to the same college as her ex, but her dad is now the new head football coach at Rusk University. Things might be looking up, though, when Dallas meets Carson McClain at a party. There’s only one catch, Carson is on the football team, and Dallas doesn’t know it. Carson should be focusing all his efforts on keeping his grades up and working out if he wants to make first-string quarterback. But since meeting Dallas, he can’t seem to focus on anything but figuring out how to see her again. To make things better, she’s also his new coach’s daughter. Dallas and Carson should stay away from each other, but they can only fight their feelings for so long.

So. About All Lined Up. This would be so much easier if my review could just be “I loved it, and you should read it so that you can love it, too.” Because, honestly, I LOVED All Lined Up. I remember when I first started hearing about the book, it was being compared to Friday Night Lights, just in college instead of high school. The comparison instantly sold me on the book (side note: if you haven’t watched Friday Night Lights yet, get on that pronto). At the same time, though, that comparison scared me a little: how could a book possibly live up when it’s being compared to one of my favourite TV shows ever? I shouldn’t have worried too much though, because I wasn’t in the least bit disappointed by Cora Carmack and All Lined Up. Right from the start I got sucked in to the story, using every spare minute I had to read. Because it was told from a dual perspectives, I just kept turning the pages, wanting to see what would happen and what I would see from whose point of view. In all honesty, this story is just addicting. It was one of those books that caused me to stay up reading way past when I should have been (a decision I really regretted the next morning). But it was worth it. I loved every page of what I read, and I fell completely in love with Dallas and Carson.

Right from page one, I was in love with Dallas. I loved her snark and her tendency towards being over dramatic. And considering what I knew of her background and childhood, I could understand why she was the way she was, but I loved her. And because I loved her, I wanted her to find someone who would finally not put her second to football. And honestly, I had my doubts that Carson would be that person, at first. But again, I didn’t really have anything to worry about because once I got to know Carson better I knew that he would never even think to do that. And just like Dallas it didn’t take long at all for me to fall for Carson. He was just such a good guy. And I really don’t know what else to say about Carson other than how awesome and great and fantastic he was (I know, I’m babbling). And then put Dallas and Carson together, and I was one very happy reader. On a different note, can we please get a story about Stella and Ryan, because that would also be pretty awesome. I can just picture the laughs that would come from it.

In case it wasn’t absolutely obvious, I LOVED Cora Carmack’s All Lined Up. It was exactly what I had hoped it would be and I couldn’t be happier. I can’t wait to read more Rusk University books because I just know I will love them. And now I’m going to go re-watch some Friday Night Lights.


Want to read Cora Carmack's All Lined Up (trust me, you do)? Then fill out the Rafflecopter form below for your chance to win 1 of 5 signed copies of All Lined Up. Giveaway is open to US only. Good luck!

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Blonde Ops by Charlotte Bennardo & Natalie Zaman

Title: Blonde Ops
Author: Charlotte Bennardo & Natalie Zaman
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Pitched as The Devil Wears Prada meets James Bond for teens, featuring a fashion magazine intern in Rome who uncovers a plot to kidnap the First Lady.

Expelled from yet another boarding school for hacking, sixteen-year-old Rebecca “Bec” Jackson is shipped off to Rome to intern for Parker Phillips, the editor-in-chief of one of the world’s top fashion magazines. But when a mysterious accident lands Parker in a coma, former supermodel and notorious drama queen Candace Worthington takes the reins of the magazine. The First Lady is in Rome for a cover shoot, and all hands are on deck to make sure her visit goes smoothly.

Bec quickly realizes that Parker’s “accident” may not have been quite so accidental, and when the First Lady’s life is threatened, Bec is determined to uncover the truth. On top of that, Bec must content with bitchy models, her new boss, Candace, who is just as difficult as the tabloids say, and two guys, a hunky Italian bike messenger with a thousand-watt smile and a fashion blogger with a razor-sharp wit, who are both vying for her heart.

Can Bec catch the person who’s after the First Lady, solve the mystery of Parker’s accident, and juggle two cute boys at the same time? Blonde Ops is a fun, action-packed romp through the hallways of a fashion magazine and the cobblestone streets of Rome.

Much like I’m a sucker for a good, traditional contemporary story, I’m also a sucker for contemporaries that have some sort of twist. In the case of Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman’s Blonde Ops, the twist involved a teenaged hacker trying to figure out who wants to kidnap the First Lady. Needless to say, I got sucked in and I enjoyed every page of it.

Bec Jackson has been expelled for hacking from more boarding schools than she can count. Her parents don’t know what to do with her anymore. In effort to help Bec things around, her mother ships her off to Rome to inter for Parker Philips at one of the world’s top fashion magazines. But from the moment Bec gets to Rome, things seem to be going wrong everywhere. First a car accident lands Parker in a coma, leading to her being replaced by a former supermodel. The more Bec looks into Parker’s accident, the more convinced she becomes that it wasn’t an accident and that someone might be planning to harm the First Lady during her upcoming visit. With the help of some of her new colleagues and hot Italian bike messenger, Bec sets out to catch the person who’s after the First Lady. But can she do it before the culprit puts their plan in action?

When I first read the synopsis for Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman’s Blonde Ops, I knew I was interested in reading it. I just knew it was going to be a fun story, filled with mystery. Plus it was set in Rome, so that made it that much better. And I enjoyed every page of the story. Though I’ll admit, there was good chunk of time at the beginning of the story that I kept picturing the movie When In Rome with the Olsen twins—the one where they discover someone is trying to sabotage the fashion company they are interning at for the summer. Once I moved on from that though, I really got into the story. Granted, I had a good idea of who was responsible for the plot against the First Lady pretty early on, it wasn’t clear until well into the story how it all fit together. And looking back on it, there were clues that I missed. It was just a fun story, though. I got sucked into it, reading page after page, unable to put the book down. And sure, the mystery aspect kept me reading, but what really drew me into the story was Bec, herself. 

I loved Bec right from the start. She was definitely different and she wasn’t what I expected but that’s actually what made me like her as much as I did. And really, she’s kinda hard to put into words. For starters, she’s a hacker and she’s not afraid to put her skills to good (and not so good) use. And because of that, and her general curiosity and need to know everything, she often put herself in some pretty bad and awkward situations. Half the time, I wanted to shake my head at her plans, but they were entertaining all the same. My one issue with Bec was her romantic life. Granted, in the end it kind of resolved itself, but I was a little annoyed at the fact that she was basically dating both Taj and Dante at the same time. Sure, it made for some funny moments when the two boys were trying to prove they were the best for Bec’s sake, but still. Since the focus of the story wasn’t on the romance, though, it all took a back seat to the plot to harm the First Lady. Regardless of it all, I still loved Bec.

I really enjoyed Charlotte Bennardo and Natalie Zaman’s Blonde Ops. It was a fun story that sucked me right in. If you’re looking for a fun story filled with action, twists and romance, then Blonde Ops is the perfect book for you.

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Friday, May 16, 2014

Torn Away by Jennifer Brown

Title: Torn Away
Author: Jennifer Brown
Publisher: Little, Brown
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Born and raised in the Midwest, Jersey Cameron knows all about tornadoes. Or so she thinks. When her town is devastated by a twister, Jersey survives—but loses her mother, her young sister, and her home. As she struggles to overcome her grief, she’s sent to live with her only surviving relatives: first her biological father, then her estranged grandparents.

In an unfamiliar place, Jersey faces a reality she’s never considered before—one in which her mother wasn’t perfect, and neither were her grandparents, but they all loved her just the same. Together, they create a new definition of family. And that’s something no tornado can touch.

Despite having come across many of her books in recent years, it wasn’t until very recently that I read one of Jennifer Brown’s books. I had heard many fantastic things about the books, I just had not found the time to pick one up. And so I read Torn Away, and I now can say that I will be going back and reading the ones I missed.

Living in the Midwest, Jersey has grown up learning what to do if ever there was a tornado. But despite the yearly drills at schools and constant reminders of what to do to protect herself in the even of a storm, she had never seen a tornado. That is until the day the worst tornado in recent years strikes her town, destroying everything in its wake. As a result of the tornado, Jersey doesn’t only lose her home, she also loses her mom and sister who were buried by the debris. Now Jersey is sent to live with the biological father she’s never known, and when that doesn’t work out, with her estranged grandparents. Alone in unfamiliar places, Jersey isn’t sure who she is anymore, and the more she finds out, the more she starts doubting everything her mother’s told her. But through it all, Jersey’s definition of family starts to change and she realizes that even a tornado can’t take that away from her.

So here’s the thing about Jennifer Brown and her books: I’ve plenty of great things about them, I even have a few of them sitting on my bookshelves. But the truth of the matter is, I haven’t actually read any of them. Why? I don’t know. Any time I hear she has a new book coming out, I look it up and discover that it sounds likes something I would love and then I proceed to not read it. Yeah, I have issues. But I’ve been working on that, starting with reading Torn Away. And well, now I see where I went wrong: I should totally have been reading Jennifer Brown’s books from the start. I loved Torn Away. It was a really powerful read, one that packed the punches. To put it simply, within the first 30 or so pages, I was already tearing up (it would probably have been full on crying had I not been on the bus). And from that point on, things didn’t exactly get much better for Jersey. It is, after all, a story about loss, and learning to cope with said loss and building your life back up. So yeah, it was a sad story. But more than that, it was about Jersey’s evolution and growth. What I especially liked about the story is that it was focused on Jersey’s journey and there was no real romance to speak of. I mean, I love my romance, but this Torn Away didn’t need it. If anything, adding romance to the story would have taken away from what the story was really about and the impact it can have on readers. 

Torn Away is entirely about Jersey. Sure, there were other characters in the story but they were primarily there in the background even if there were a few standouts. Because this story was about Jersey figuring out her life after having lost literally everything, including her family, to a tornado. I felt for Jersey, I really did. I loved seeing her struggle and learn to go on living her life. It wasn’t easy to see her go through all that. As I was reading, I just wanted someone to come to her rescue, or even just to stand up for her. This was especially true when she was sent to live with her biological father’s family. They were truly horrible people and Jersey deserved a lot better. Though as much there were times when I wanted someone to stand up for her, there were other moments when I wanted her to stand up for herself and to rescue herself, to start thinking about what her life is going to be like without her family. But Jersey, grew and she changed for the better and I loved seeing that evolution. 

Jennifer Brown’s Torn Away was a powerful story and one that made me feel very grateful for having the family I have. It’s also convinced me that I need to go back and read the rest of Jennifer Brown’s books.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Blog Tour: The Art of Lainey by Paula Stokes - Character Interview + Giveaway

Today I have the pleasure of taking part in the Canadian blog tour for Paula Stokes' upcoming The Art of Lainey. I've already had the chance to read this book and I absolutely loved it. If you're looking for a fantastic read for summer, this is it. And if you want a glimpse at what awaits you in the book, keep reading to learn more about Micah, my favourite person in this story.

What prompted you to start working at Denali? Did it have anything to do with your culinary aspirations?
Actually my culinary aspirations came from working at Denali. I got my job there when I was fifteen. It’s a long story, but basically I lied to my mom and told her I had gotten offered a job in order to avoid our yearly trip to the cemetery. (I hate that place.) So then I had to find a job ASAP so she didn’t bust me for lying. I went wandering around Hazelton, saw a Help Wanted sign in the window of Denali, and filled out an app. I’m pretty sure the manager only hired me because she liked the rock band T-shirt I was wearing, but hey, whatever works. It turned out that I’m naturally good at cooking an baking. I especially like baking because it’s a real challenge to get the ratios and flavors just right. 

What has it been like growing up without your dad? It seems to have made you and your sister really close.
Sorry, I don’t like talking about my dad. But yeah, Trinity is the shit. After Dad died, she basically kept our family running while Mom and I took turns self-destructing. My mom did my trinity tattoo in her honor. She had to keep stopping in the middle because she kept crying.

Be honest, what was your initial reaction when Lainey asked you to be her fake boyfriend?
I thought it was a ridiculous idea, but sometimes ideas work, you know? Plus my sadistic side liked the thought of dragging Girl Jock Lainey Mitchell to a bunch of places where she’d be uncomfortable so I could watch her flounder. I guess that’s kind of mean, huh? Whatever—she did the same thing to me.

Knowing what you know now, would you do things differently?
As far as all the “dates” and stuff, I wouldn’t change a thing because they were a fun way for Lainey and me to get to know each other. If I could do things over, I hope I would be less of a wuss, though. And less of a douchebag to both Lainey and my ex. I did them both wrong at one point, but that was mostly because I was a wuss. 

From what I know about you, you’re not really what you seem. Do people often misjudge you because of how you look? Have you ever taken advantage of that?
Yup—they do. Take advantage of it? You mean I can use this to my benefit? Please elaborate.

What do you think the future holds for you? Is Lainey going to be featured prominently in that future?
I’m kind of hoping the future holds my own book, but right now I’m settling for a lengthy novella ;-) As far as Lainey goes, who knows, right? I mean, this is high school and shit can get pretty volatile. I think the end of the book makes my feelings pretty clear, but it’s not just up to me.

Thank you Micah for answering my questions, I can't wait for more people to get to know you. 

About the book:
Soccer star Lainey Mitchell is greasing up to spend an epic summer with her amazing boyfriend, Jason, when he suddenly breaks up with her—no reasons, nor warning, and in public no less! Lainey is more than crushed, but with help form her friend Bianca, she resolves to do whatever it takes to get Jason back.

And that’s when the girls stumble across a copy of The Art of War. With just one glance, they’re sure they can sue the book to lure Jason back in Lainey’s arms. So Lainey channels her inner warlord, recruiting spies to gather intel and persuading her coworker Micah to pose as her new boyfriend to make Jason jealous. After a few “dates,” it looks like her plan is going to work! But now her relationship with Micah is starting to feel like more than just a game.

What’s a girl to do when what she wants is totally different from what she needs? How do you figure out the person you’re meant to be with, if you’re still figuring out the person you’re meant to be?

About the author:
Paula Sokes is half writer, half RN, and totally thrilled to be part of the world of YA literature. She few up in St. Louis, Missouri where she graduated from Washington University and the Goldfarb School of Nursing. When she’s not writing, she’s kayaking, hiking, reading, or seeking out new adventures in faraway lands. Paula loves interacting with readers! Find her online on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Pinterest.


Does The Art of Lainey sound like something you would be interested in reading? Then be sure to enter the giveaway below for your chance to win one of two copies of the book. To enter, all you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open internationally.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

All Lined Up by Cora Carmack Release Day Launch + Giveaway

ALU RDL Banner Final

We are thrilled that Cora Carmack's highly anticipated ALL LINED UP is finally here!! ALL LINED UP is a New Adult contemporary romance novel being published by HarperCollins’ William Morrow Impulse imprint and is a part of Cora Carmack’s Rusk University Series!!

Be sure to keep reading for an excerpt from the book and for your chance to enter in a giveaway.


     There’s only one thing in the world I despise more than football, and he’s making his way down the stairs towards me.
     My eyes flit around me like I’m scanning a battlefield instead of a blowout: fraternity banners, litters of red Solo cups, and a freshman pledge dragging around a trash bag playing reluctant maid. Part of me wants to keep doing that, to pretend like I didn’t hear him.
     But I can’t. If I ignore him, it will only prove to him that he still bothers me.
     I face him as he steps off the last stair, crossing his arms over his broad chest and grinning at me. Levi. My ex.
     He leans his hip against the banister of the grand staircase, and I spy not one but two girls sitting halfway up the stairs, obviously upset that they’ve lost his attention.
     Behind me I hear someone shout, “Ready. Aim. Fire!” and I know the beer guns are back in play.
     “Alcohol and bad decisions, Levi? Can’t say I’m surprised to find you smack-dab in the middle of that.”
     He kicks off from the banister, swaggering a few steps closer. His dark hair and eyes are as striking as always. I’d fallen for him so hard my freshman year of high school: doodling our names together in my spiral, watching him play from the bleachers, wearing that monstrous mum he gave me for homecoming, beaming on his elbow at his junior prom.
     The memory of all that just makes me nauseated now. But as Stella always says, hindsight is a pretentious, know-it-all bitch.
     “You come here to make some bad decisions?” He moves closer, his voice pitching lower. Intimate. His gaze drifts down my body with an arrogant familiarity. “Because you know I can help you with that.”
     Levi Abrams has been the cause of enough bad decisions for a lifetime.
     Stella steps in, her voice colder than I’ve ever heard it. “I’m fairly certain she’d rather sandpaper her own skin off.”
     I nod and plaster on the fakest smile in my arsenal. “And then take a bath in lemon juice.”
     Levi smiles back, and I’m pretty sure the bastard is enjoying this.
     He’s bigger than when I last saw him. Bulked up. I guess that’s the difference between high school and college ball. But it’s not just muscles…he reaches out a hand like he’s going to touch my hair, and as I jerk back, even his hands seem bigger than I remember. A man’s hand, rather than those of the boy I knew. Or maybe his head got so big that his inflated ego overflowed to other parts of his body. Also a possibility.
     I knew Levi was here when I chose Rusk University—hard not to when he’s the starting quarterback—but I didn’t think I’d ever have to see him. Since Dad wouldn’t let me leave Texas, and only a handful of universities here actually have a true dance major, Rusk was the best option out of the schools to which I was allowed to apply.
     Levi lets his hand fall away and turns to leave, but then stops to say over his shoulder, “You don’t have to pretend to hate me so much, you know. I’m here. You’re here.  We could start fresh, D.”
     Why does no one get that it’s impossible to have a fresh start when nothing has really changed? God, I knew that better than anybody because no matter how many new coaching jobs Dad took, every school ended up the same.
     Levi is still a douche-bag who only cares about himself.
     Dad still approaches parenting like I’m a member of his team.
     And I…I’m still stuck. In my father’s shadow. In Texas. In this lame state school with a joke of a dance program.
     And now I’m stuck at my first frat party with the ex who broke my heart.
     Yay college.

About the book:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack follows up her trio of hits—Losing It, Faking It, and Finding It—with this thrilling first novel in an explosive series bursting with the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights.

In Texas, two things are cherished above all else—football and gossip. My life has always been ruled by both.

Dallas Cole loathes football. That’s what happens when you spend your whole childhood coming in second to a sport. College is her time to step out of the bleachers, and put the playing field (and the players) in her past.

But life doesn’t always go as planned. As if going to the same college as her football star ex wasn’t bad enough, her father, a Texas high school coaching phenom, has decided to make the jump to college ball…as the new head coach at Rusk University. Dallas finds herself in the shadows of her father and football all over again.

Carson McClain is determined to go from second-string quarterback to the starting line-up. He needs the scholarship and the future that football provides. But when a beautiful redhead literally falls into his life, his focus is more than tested. It’s obliterated.

Dallas doesn’t know Carson is on the team. Carson doesn’t know that Dallas is his new coach’s daughter.

And neither of them know how to walk away from the attraction they feel.

About Cora:
Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life—boring jobs (like working retail), fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. 


Want to win $25 to spend at the book retailer of your choice? Than just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Open to US only.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt

Title: The Chapel Wars
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
Acclaimed author Lindsey Leavitt brings her trademark heart, humor, and romance to her hometown—Vegas.

Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there’s Grandpa’s letter. Not only is she running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money—fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family’s mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. Not matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her groups of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and…Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there’s a wedding chapel to save.

As much as I love contemporary, and as much as I try to read every contemporary book I can get my hands on, I had yet to read one of Lindsey Leavitt’s books. Now that I have though, I will be going back and reading the ones I missed out on because I absolutely love The Chapel Wars. It was exactly what I had hoped it would be.

All Holly has ever wanted is to finish high school, go to business school and one day take over running her grandfather’s Vegas wedding chapel. And this does happen, just a lot sooner than Holly ever expected. When her grandfather dies, he decides to leave his chapel to Holly. But there’s also a catch: Holly needs to make some money and fast if she wants to keep the chapel. That’s not all though. There’s also Grandpa’s letter, the one that tells Holly that she needs to deliver a letter to Dax Cranston, the grandson of the owner of the rival chapel. Dax isn’t what Holly expected. For starters, he’s nothing like his horrible grandfather. But Holly shouldn’t be spending time with Dax, she should be focused on keeping the chapel open for business and keeping her grandfather’s legacy alive. No matter what she does though, Holly can’t stop thinking about Dax even if the chapel is what she should be thinking about.

So, The Chapel Wars. What didn’t I love about this book. Until now, I hadn’t read any of Lindsey Leavitt’s other books, but that is soon going to change. To put it simply, I absolutely loved The Chapel Wars. This story had just the right balance between the light and fun, and heaviness. From the start, you’re thrown into the heavier stuff, what with the book pretty much opening with the reading of a will and a funeral. But even with all of that, there was also humour injected in the story right from the start. So while I felt like I should feel back for what Holly was going through, I couldn’t help but want to smile at all the craziness that was happening through it all. And craziness there was. But I guess when you’re dealing with Vegas wedding chapels, it’s to be expected. Beyond the mix of craziness of the wedding business, this story was also about grief and learning how to move on. That’s what Holly had to learn over the course of the story and by the end, she had. But it wasn’t just about Holly learning to move on, it was also about everyone else learning to move on from what had happened in the past, and that of course included Dax. And of course where Dax and Holly are involved, that also means romance, and I personally loved that romance in all its imperfection.

Holly is a very goal-driven person. Case in point, she’s been working her whole like to take over her grandfather’s wedding chapel. Because of that, she hasn’t really taken the time to really get to know who she is outside the wedding chapel. But over the course of the book, she starts to figure it out and I loved getting to know her as she got to know herself. Holly was also kinda unusual, but I really loved her. There were so many aspects of her personality I could relate to and that made me enjoy her story that much more. Of course, a large part of Holly in this story was who she learned to be with Dax. And Dax was pretty great, if you want my honest opinion. He was pretty much the complete opposite of who I expected him to be. I don’t really know why, but as I started reading I had this image in my mind of who Dax was going to be. But he turned out to be someone completely different, and I loved him for it. Dax wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot. He was dealing with his own grief and because of that he wasn’t always acting in the most intelligent ways. But at the same time, it made it so him and Holly could be really good together, helping each other through their respective grief. So basically, all that to say that I loved Holly and Dax together. 

In case it wasn’t clear by now, I really loved Lindsey Leavitt’s The Chapel Wars. It was just the right mix of fun and heavy, just how I like my contemporary stories to be. You can be that I will now be going back and checking out Lindsey  Leavitt’s other books. If they’re anything like The Chapel Wars, then I know I’ll love them. 

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Blog Tour: Unspeakable by Caroline Pignat - Guest Post

Today I have the pleasure of taking part in the blog tour for the recently released Unspeakable by Caroline Pignat. I've been really excited about this book for a while, and after having recently met Caroline and heard her talk about her book, my excitement level only went up. So today, I am happy to have Caroline here on the blog to talk about what it was like to do research for Unspeakable.

I love researching. It feels like a treasure hunt. I usually start with kids’ non-fiction books, for a quick overview of the subject. Then, I review as many novels/movies as I can that are also set in the period to help me get a feel for the time. For UNSPEAKABLE, I watched Titanic (obviously) and also Downton Abbey for a sense of that time period and the relationships between servants and the elite.

Then the real work began.

I read countless survivor accounts, stewardess diaries, and stoker testimonies. I studied ship diagrams, naval terms, and sailing itineraries. I always keeps LOTS of notes because I can’t remember things. Every novel I’ve done has a huge binder of research, countless photos, websites and files on Scrivener and sometimes, like for UNSPEAKABLE, I make a visual board:

I also researched the archives of the Museum of Canadian History. They’d acquired a lot of artifacts from the Empress of Ireland for an exhibit to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking. It’s great to speak to experts who are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the topic. I usually have a ton of very detailed and specific questions from my research and I am thrilled when they have answers for me.

Overall, I usually spend about six months to a year researching before I feel confident enough to create that time and place in my story.

Be sure to be on the lookout for my review of Unspeakable in the coming weeks!

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Friday, May 9, 2014

Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson

Title: Since You've Been Gone
Author: Morgan Matson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster BFYR
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon / Book Depository / Indigo
The Pre-Sloane Emily didn’t go to parties, she barely talked to guys, she didn’t do anything crazy. Enter Sloane, social tornado and the best kind of best friend—the one who yanks you out of your shell. But right before what should have been an epic summer, Sloane just…disappears. No note. No calls. No texts. No Sloane. There’s just a random to-do list. On it, thirteen Sloane-selected-definitely-bizarre-tasks that Emily would never try…unless they could lead back to her best friend. Apple picking at night? Ok, easy enough. Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a stranger? Wait…what?

Getting through Sloane’s list would mean a lot of firsts. But Emily has this whole unexpected summer ahead of her, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected) to check things off. Who knows what she’ll find?

Go skinny dipping? Um…

Much like any bookworm out there, there are authors whose books I just have to read. These are authors whose books I’ve read and adored in the past. For me, one of those authors is Morgan Matson. So there was never any doubt in my mind that I would love Since You’ve Been Gone, I just didn’t know I would end up loving it quite as much as I did.

Since becoming Sloane Williams’ best friend, Emily Hughes has lived in her friend’s shadow. But Emily doesn’t mind being in Sloane’s shadow because Sloane takes Emily out of her comfort zone, makes her do things she wouldn’t normally do by herself. But now Sloane has disappeared, leaving no explanation for Emily. The only thing left to prove Sloane was ever around, is a list of thirteen tasks Emily should complete. This shouldn’t be so hard. Except these are “Sloane-tasks” things Emily wouldn’t do if it weren’t for her best friend pushing her. By going through this list, Emily has an unexpected summer, one that brings about new and unexpected friendship and help from unlikely sources. 

Anyone who knows me knew that I would love Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone, they just couldn’t have predicted how much I would love this book. There’s just something that happens any time I read one of Morgan Matson’s books. I start reading, and slowly, without really realizing it’s happening, I get sucked into the story, becoming invested in the characters and their stories, not ever wanting to leave them. So of course, this happened with Since You’ve Been Gone. It’s one of those books that made me do nothing else but read from the moment I walked into my house after coming home from work. I just spent my entire night in Stanwich with Emily, Frank, Collins and their friends. And if I’m being honest, I didn’t want to ever really leave that place and those characters. So in case it wasn’t obvious by now, I loved Since You’ve Been Gone, but it’s hard to put that love into words. All I really want to say is that everyone needs to read this book because there is something in there that will appeal to everyone, whether it’s the characters, the themes or the story as a whole. For me, as it often is, it was the characters that did it.

I connected with Emily right from page one. And it was more than just the fact that we shared a name (though spelled differently). In Emily, I saw a lot of the person I was in high school. The person who was almost more defined by the people she was friends with than the person she was herself. But I loved seeing Emily grow over the course of the story, start to figure out who she is beyond just Sloane Williiams’ best friend. And I loved the person she became, the Emily who made friends with new people, who would exchange running playlists with Frank. And I can’t talk about Emily without talking about the person she became when she was with Frank. Because I loved Frank. I kinda want a Frank of my own. It’s hard to put Frank into words. On the surface he looks like he has it completely together. But the more Emily got to know him, the more she realized that he wasn’t as perfect as he seemed. And in my opinion, those imperfections are what made him so great. Basically, I adored these characters and they will stay with me for a long time.

As you may have guessed by now, I ADORED Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone. I flew through the pages, never wanting the story to end so I wouldn’t have to say goodbye to these characters. If you have yet to read one of Morgan Matson’s books, you should seriously consider changing that as soon as possible.

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Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tudor Thursdays - Teaser & Giveaways!

In preparation for the release of Katherine Longshore's Brazen in June, I have the pleasure of starting off this year's edition of the Tudor Thursdays. So keep reading for a teaser, a bit about one of Katherine Longshore's favorite European historical site and a giveaway. Enjoy!

Marriage is a word that tastes like metal—the steel of armour, the gold of commerce, the iron bite of blood and prison bars.

But also bronze. A bell that rings clear and true and joyously. Like hope.

As my father guides me through the palace rooms to the chapel, I don’t know which way the door to my cell will swing. It could ring loud, metal to metal, locking me into a life I never asked for. Or it could open wide, hinges creaking, into a life I never imagined.

I concentrate very hard on not tripping over my own train as we turn the final corner and proceed through the chapel doors. I will never hear the end of it from my mother if I blunder.

Henry FitzRoy is already there. Watching me.

My family has known him for years. When he was a child, Father helped organize his household, his tutors, his finances, his friends. My brother, Hal, was sent to Windsor to be his playmate. 

But I don’t know him. I don’t know who he’s become. All I remember is a little boy with golden-red hair and eyebrows that seemed to soar right off the top of his forehead. A little boy with no chin and an air of superiority. 

It appears I’m marrying someone quite a bit more attractive.

His every brows still arc high into the fringe of hair ready to fall into his eyes at any moment. Eyes the color of a clear winter dawn. His nose is perhaps a little good big for the mouth below it, the full lower lip complementing the now well-defined chin.

The mouth tips into a smile. Of relief? Or of expectation?

As I watch, unmoving, one eyebrow curves even higher. 

A question.

An invitation.

A challenge.

Father walks me to the altar. The shallow, barrel-vaulted ceiling looms heavy overhead. The magnificent stained-glass window in front of me filters the light of the wintry sky through depictions of the kind and his first queen, Katherine. To either side of me stand witnesses dressed in gaudy blue and green and crimson. My eyes never leave the boy in front of me.

Father squeezes my arm and whispers, “Make me proud.”

I say the only thing I can.

“I will.”

Hampton Court Palace

I first visited Hampton Court before I became interested in history. I enjoyed the architecture, the grounds, the location…but it was only when I returned—having read multiple books about Henry VIII and his wives—that I truly immersed myself in it. Henry’s gorgeous astronomical clock, the paintings of the Battle of the Spurs and the field of Cloth and Gold, Anne Boleyn’s Gate (where her initials can still be seen, entwined with Henry’s) and the haunted gallery (where Catherine Howard reputedly made her mad dash to be Henry’s forgiveness). Heady stuff.

Henry VIII was madly renovating and improving Hampton Court during the years that BRAZEN is set, so some of what Mary experienced would be different from what we would see today. The satined glass window (possibly smashed by Oliver Cromwell, and eventually covered over during Queen Anne’s reign) would have been int eh Chapel Royal when she and Fitz are married in 1533, but the vaulted, start-studded ceiling would not have been completed until later.


Today I have to giveaways for you! The first one is for a set of all three Royal Circles novels--Gilt, Tarnish and Brazen--open to US and Canada only. The second giveaway is for a copy of Brazen and is open internationally. Good luck!

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Blog Tour: Royally Lost by Angie Stanton - Excerpt & Giveaway

Today I have the pleasure of taking part in the blog tour for Angie Stanton's newly released Royally Lost. I haven't had time to read the book just yet, but I know it's going to be on my summer TBR for sure! Keep reading for an excerpt from the book and to enter a giveaway. Enjoy!

Nikolai opened his eyes, chilled, as a cloud blocked out the sun. Next to him, Becca slept, her hand curled in his. She smiled in relaxed slumber.

He gently released her hand and looked around. A couple of people lounged on the distant beach and a lone man sat in the sand why a camera aimed straight at him. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up.

Nikolai turned his back to the beach and nudged her. “Becca!”

“Hmm?” She stirred.

“There’s a guy on the beach and I’m pretty sure he’s taking our picture.”

Her eyes sprang open. “What?” She sat up and spotted the man. “You think he’s paparazzi?”

“It sure isn’t a random tourist aiming a long lens at us. How the hell did he know I was here?” Nikolai slid on his shorts.

“Oh crud.” Becca grabbed her clothes and quickly pulled them on. “You think he’s been taking pictures of us sleeping?”

“That and more. Lord only knows how long he’s been here.” He didn’t notice him when they were in the water, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t been lurking in the trees, snapping pictures.

Nikolai stuffed their leftover lunch items into his backpack. How did this camera-wielding jerk find him?

Dressed, with everything packed up, they headed for the motorbike. Their path unfortunately forced them to pass the creep with the camera. Nikolai pulled his baseball cap low and hid behind his sunglasses. He led the way with Becca’s hand firmly in his.

“Prince Nikolai, why did you run from the palace?” The photographer, a short, heavyset man with cameras strapped across his chest moved closer.

Nikolai picked up the pace, but the man stayed with them, walking backward and snapping pictures. This was no officially appearance where Nikolai owed the press a friendly smile and kind word.

“Do your parents know where you are?”

He ignored him.

“Your friend is beautiful. Is she the reason you fled? What’s her name?”

Nikolai bristled and fought the urge to shove the man to the ground and bust his camera. He glanced at Becca, her face pink with embarrassment. She didn’t need to be targeted by this oily loser.

“Have you heard that your sister, Princess Alexi, has gone missing?”

Nikolai hesitated for an instant, but then hurried on. The man was lying. He was sure of it, and he wouldn’t let this vile intruder ruin their day.

They reached the bike. He hurried and strapped on the pack and hopped on. Becca climbed up, hugging him from behind. Nikolai liked the feel of her body secure against his. It made him feel better able to protect her.

The photographer kept snapping pictures and wouldn’t back off. “There are rumors that you have renounced the throne,” he baited.

Nikolai stiffened, but didn’t give him the satisfaction of a reaction. He started the engine.

“Where are you going next?”

"Wouldn’t you like to know?” Nikolai grinned, revved the engine, and spun gravel as they raced away.
Want to find out more about the book? Be sure to check out the rest of the tour by visiting the InkSlinger PR Blog Tour page for the rest of the Royally Lost tour. And if it sounds like something you want to read, just head over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to get yourself a copy!


As part of this blog tour, InkSlinger PR is giving away a $20 Amazon giftcard. To enter, just use the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

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